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Subject: Perfectionnism and OCD in game design: Virtue or Flaw rss

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Eric Pietrocupo
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Since most game are 80% complete, it seems that nobody has the dedication to push the line further, but a perfectionnist person or somebody with obsessive compulsive disorder would push that line further by making sure everything is "Perfect" (to his point of view).

Now in every day live, it's not a necessity to be perfectionnist it can actually be annoying, but in board game design, would it worth it to have taken into account every detail possible the designer can percieve.

As a library technician, I often say that a part of my job could be renamed "detail management" as for example I need to use 1100 page rule book for cataloguing (the newer version has more). Maybe this is one of the reason I am so much obsessed with detail.
 
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Reed Dawley
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"Perfection is the enemy of the good."

Trying for perfection kept me from painting miniatures, once I accepted that my painting was never going to be worthy of putting in a magazine or award ceremony I got a heck of a lot more done. Same when I was blacksmithing or making up custom cables. To me perfection in anything is unattainable.
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There is a role for this!

It's not necessarily the designer's job (though it could be), but there is sometimes a person that develops the game further and works with the designer to iron out all the kinks.

Some people call that person the game developer.
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James Arias
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Bad in design/concept/roughout phase.
Good for playtesting/balancing phase.
Variable for artwork, layout, rulebook, etc.

My nonprofessional $.02.
 
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Dan
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larienna wrote:
Since most game are 80% complete, it seems that nobody has the dedication to push the line further, but a perfectionnist person or somebody with obsessive compulsive disorder would push that line further by making sure everything is "Perfect" (to his point of view).

Now in every day live, it's not a necessity to be perfectionnist it can actually be annoying, but in board game design, would it worth it to have taken into account every detail possible the designer can percieve.

As a library technician, I often say that a part of my job could be renamed "detail management" as for example I need to use 1100 page rule book for cataloguing (the newer version has more). Maybe this is one of the reason I am so much obsessed with detail.


Game development and playtesting is an iterative person. I would think that most perfectionists would struggle to ever complete a game design if their OCD is really bad.

(my slight OCD was noticing the ironic misspelling of perfectionist, lol)
 
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callme DESDINOVA
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IMCarnochan wrote:
"Perfection is the enemy of the good."

To me perfection in anything is unattainable.

While I agree that perfection is unattainable in this world, I feel that this is too often used as an excuse for being careless and putting in a halfhearted effort.

People who strive for perfection may not achieve it but often do incredible things.
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Jeremy Lennert
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If you are trying to make the point that most published games could probably have benefited from additional tweak-and-test iterations, that is true. But for most games, you could continue working on the game until the day you die, and that would still be true. You have to cut it off at some point or else no games would get released.


But I also wouldn't call that "incomplete". I would say a "complete" game is one that has all the rules and components necessary for you to play. (An incomplete painting is one where half the canvas is blank; an incomplete novel is one where the story never reaches a conclusion; etc.)

I'd say most commercially-published games are about 98% complete, and the reason they stop there has as much to do with customers as designers: Most players would rather have an easy-to-follow rulebook than one that addresses literally every possible contingency in the game, so even if you created a 100% complete game you might choose to publish a 98% complete version anyway. (I think I place more emphasis on rigor and completeness than most, but you can still find obscure special cases in my games that are never directly addressed by the rulebook if you really work at it.)
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
To me perfection in anything is unattainable.


True, that is something I forgot to mention. I don't expect perfection to be achievable, but by trying to push things a bit futher and eventually putting a stop to it.

Quote:
It's not necessarily the designer's job (though it could be), but there is sometimes a person that develops the game further and works with the designer to iron out all the kinks.

Some people call that person the game developer.


Oh!, I never tought such "Role Existed". I might personally fall more into that category.

Quote:
Good for playtesting/balancing phase.


Yes, it is more useful in late design when the game starts working. This is the step when you must convince your self not to stop. Or give some rest to your game. But people seem to stop too soon.

------------------------------

Foir those who want to know where the 80% comes from, it's from pareto's law as cited here:

"Making an 80% game is very easy. A lot of games out there are just 80% finished. With more testing the game could be more elegant and the last 20% takes a lot of time. That's the difficult part. - Reiner Knizia "

In that book of mine:

Game Design: How to create video and tabletop games, start to finish / Lewis Pulsipher.- Jefferson: McFarland, 2012.- 268 p.
 
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Reed Dawley
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larienna wrote:
Quote:
To me perfection in anything is unattainable.


True, that is something I forgot to mention. I don't expect perfection to be achievable, but by trying to push things a bit futher and eventually putting a stop to it.


The where to put a stop to it is the biggest thing, it can never be perfect so it is up to the person to decide when it is good enough. Someone could make a game and playtest and modify and tweak and make changes for 30 years and still not be to the level of excellence they want. It is what makes the question truly interesting. When is good enough good enough. It is why I could never be an artist (and I do see great game designers as artists), I always see something that I can do a little better or a little more detail... I have to eventually say good enough is good enough.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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This is what they call the "Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns" where ratio of rewards received for the efforts made reduces as the project progress. And you eventually reach a point where more efforts gives so little reward that it does not worth the investment.

--------------------------------

But just to be back on topic, does people with OCD and perfectionnist are advantaged over other designers for pushing their game further. Is it something we should encourage game designers to become?
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Reed Dawley
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larienna wrote:
But just to be back on topic, does people with OCD and perfectionnist are advantaged over other designers for pushing their game further. Is it something we should encourage game designers to become?


I have backed a number of Kickstarter games where I do not think they even got to the 80% testing phase, a few were so undercooked that they were barely games. So yes, I think that game designers who give their all to create a game they are passionate about should be encouraged and rewarded.

[non germane to topic pedantic info]I think perfectionist is more apt, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is used by people to mean someone who is obsessed with their pencils being lined up right when really it is a combination of obtrusive thoughts, compulsive behaviour and rituals to attempt to reduce their anxiety. People use the terms interchangeably when they really shouldn't. [/non germane to topic pedantic info]
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Well I have minor OCD behavior including obsessions with numbers that seems to have an impact for me in game design. Sure aligning pencil does not influence game design, but certain kind of obsession could.
 
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Reed Dawley
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So back to perfectionism, I am pro working things unit they are done and not settling when it comes to time crunches or burn out. Playing a well put together game whether a small card game or a large intricate heavy game is a joy. Playing a game that is "good enough" is fine, but when a designer really gets it together a game a piece of art. It is like a swiss watch, each piece having a purpose, intricate moving together to carry the game forward. When you finish and a game and think, I cannot think of a thing I would add or take away to make this better, then you hit gold.

[non germane to topic so ignore if you wish] with your OCD, if the numbers arent right does your brain insist that someone you love will die? So you have to get the number right or something horrible will happen to a beloved family member. Thats true OCD. Holding a cat you love and have raised from a kitten and having an obtrusive abhorrent thought that you could just snap its neck and then being horrified by that thought, that is true OCD. The impulse is not acted on, but it repeats and causes massive anxiety. When people use OCD to mean they like things a certain way or they get their head down in the bits and feel better when things are they way they want them is a different thing. I know, I live with someone with OCD and have seen the pain it causes. I'm not trying to single you out and I don't know if you have an official diagnosis but OCD is such a misunderstood thing. I just feel the need to point it out. Maybe that makes me pedantic, but having seen the real beast up close its like calling a chihuahua a rabid wolf. If you do have a true diagnosis and are only sharing small parts then you know all of this anyway.[/non germane to topic so ignore if you wish]
 
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Robin Gibson
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It's the Tolkein thing, right? Tolkein basically published four books in his career. And created libraries worth of back story for them.

His works are amazing because of this, but most authors would rather write more less successful books. Hard to make a living off of four books.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Nice analogy, I did not see it this way.

As for OCD, I know there are various levels of obsession, some can be life breaking while others are not. The few obsessions I have are not life breaking. They just affect small meaning less things of my life.
 
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Reed Dawley
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larienna wrote:
Nice analogy, I did not see it this way.


I could not imagine the intricacies of designing a game, but I love to cook. That is how I look at cooking which is a much simpler discipline. I experiment and try things, find the flavours that wok well tigether and remember. When I get a dish down and I can no longer find a way to improve it I write the recipe down. Took me nine major changes to make the perfect pork chili(to my taste buds), eventually took inspiration from Chicken Tikka Masala. I test different iterations with people and get notes from them. Too hot? Too muddled in flavour? Take notes, change a variable and try again. Taste testing is the closest I get to play testing. French Toast, Jams or even a proper Curry, I want to make the best food I can. Every calorie should be enjoyable.

larienna wrote:
As for OCD, I know there are various levels of obsession, some can be life breaking while others are not. The few obsessions I have are not life breaking. They just affect small meaning less things of my life.


Maybe you are just a driven perfectionist, which is cool. Wanting to make the best thing you can make is an admirable trait.
 
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